After ‘Hate Crime’, University of Hyderabad Plans to Make Campus Inclusive, Frame Transgender Policy

Alleged burning of two transgender students’ clothes as part of a “hate crime” led the varsity to reach the decision.
Pic source- IndiaTimes
Pic source- IndiaTimes

New Delhi- The University of Hyderabad (UoH) announced on February 27 that it would frame a transgender policy for the upcoming academic year after consulting all stakeholders. If the UoH walks the talk, it would be the second varsity after the Delhi University to have a well-defined policy for transgender persons.  

A circular issued by the Office of Registrar said, “The Transgender Committee has been tasked with formulating the transgender policy by May 31, 2024, for inclusion in the prospectus for the subsequent academic year (2024-25). Furthermore, students are encouraged to report any issues directly to the dean, students’ welfare.”

The Mooknayak talked to the student leaders associated with the Ambedkar Student Association (ASA), which held a series of protests to ensure that students, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and sexual orientation, get equal treatment from the administration.

ASA President Naresh said that there was already a committee that was constituted for the trans students, but it lacked any power. 

“It is only after the recent student protest against a hate crime that the university has made it active. Now, the committee, along with the Student Union, fellow stakeholders and the administration, will devise methods to make the university more inclusive,” he said.

According to reports, the committee will have five members — deputy registrar, two professors, a transgender persons’ rights activist and students’ union representative.

“One of the primary issues is that the university should not wait for the students to furnish transgender certificates for them to get help,” said Naresh.

Describing the decision a “positive step”, he said, “We welcome the step because only policy level changes can impact the structures to create an impact. Now, the task at hand is to come up with inclusive measures to make sure the policies are effective.”

The Mooknayak had earlier reported the clothes of a Dalit transgender student at the UoH — Hritik Laxman Lalan — were allegedly set on fire by unidentified persons. She had left it out at her hostel. She discovered the burnt outfits lying on the floor on February 25 morning. 

The same happened with another trans woman — Tikku — as well. She also woke up the same morning to find that her clothes were allegedly burnt. 

Both the students belong to the ASA and reside in guest rooms of Men’s Hostel K. Currently, there is no provision for accommodating trans students in separate hostels, which allegedly make them more vulnerable to such violence.

Gopi Swamy, a senior student leader and former general secretary of the students’ union, said the reasons cited by the university for not providing the community with separate accommodation is shortage of hostels.

Speaking about the current accommodation process, he explained, “There are guest rooms in the newly constructed hostels, especially the boys hostel. Even though they are in the same building, they have separate washrooms. These rooms are provided to the students from the community.”

But, he emphasized, there is a need for separate accommodation. The latest incident wherein the clothes of the two trans students were selectively targeted despite the fact that the victims are residents of the men’s hostel further highlight the need to have a separate hostel for the students belonging to the community.

Terming the incident a “hate crime”, Lalan and Tikku lodged official complaints with the UoH administration and their association (the ASA) staged a protest to press the varsity to address issues.

Pic source- IndiaTimes
Trans Student’s Experience Highlights Concerns at University of Hyderabad

They put forth a charter of demands, which are as follows:

  • Identify the perpetrators and take action against them. Make sure a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

  • Establish a committee dedicated to formulating a comprehensive transgender policy. This policy should aim at addressing various issues faced by transgender students, including matters related to accommodation, safety and compliance with the provisions outlined in the NALSA judgment.

  • Consult and collaborate with all stakeholders while drafting the policy for transgender students.

The University of Delhi is the first and so far only Central university in North India that has a transgender policy.

In accordance with the NALSA judgment of 2014, the DU’s Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) in 2015 spearheaded a project titled The Third ‘I’: Dignity of Being. The initiative was dedicated to integrating members of the transgender community into the university’s academic environment.

The university took proactive steps to support transgender students by implementing various measures: 

  • Identification: to encourage educational institutions to identify transgender students).

  • Documentation: to enable students from the community to submit an affidavit and a certificate validating their identity.

  • Support: to create a helping academic environment and appointing a confidential contact person).

  • Equal Opportunities: to include transgender options in forms, promote respect of chosen identities and reserve seats in courses.

  • Safety: to establish an anti-ragging cell and provide counselling for vulnerable groups.

  • Scholarships: to offer special fellowships and consider fee concessions.

  • Syllabus: incorporating transgender content into educational programs.

  • Awareness: to sensitize staff and students through different programs and campaigns.

  • Infrastructure: to build gender-neutral facilities and ensure access to healthcare and hostel accommodations.

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